"Effective Evil" or Progressives’ Best Hope? What to Make of Obama's Presidency
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AMY GOODMAN: Glen Ford?
GLEN FORD: Well, we are certainly not encouraging people to vote for the more effective evil. But, however, members of my family and friends and people that we at Black Agenda Report deal with closely, politically, are going to vote for President Obama. All we ask of them is that they not tell any lies about his record in the process, to tell the truth. And truth telling is not something that’s just engaged in in highfalutin principle; we make our decisions based upon the truth. Dr. Dyson just alluded to President Obama’s new doctrine of foreign policy, which is that any time some group of people—and you can always find some group—asks that the United States intervene in the internal affairs of their country, then the United States should. He never mentioned the term "international law." And this is one of the great historical legacies of the Obama administration. He has ignored international law, laws that have evolved over hundreds of years, ignored the sovereignty of nations and decided that, well, wherever the United States deems evil to occur, it will and should intervene militarily. That is anarchy. That is chaos. But actually it’s called imperialism.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, just one quick thing. I should point out that we’re here in Charlotte, North Carolina. And Charlotte is where Samir Khan lived. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike last October—his family filed suit in July against Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and two senior commanders of the special forces—in a drone attack that was authorized by President Obama in Yemen.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Yeah, right. There’s blood on the hands of America in regard to foreign policy—no question about that. Always has been, always will be. It should be resisted. It should be strategically—our resistance to it, as a matter of conscience and conviction, should be made explicit. And just because I didn’t mention international law doesn’t mean I don’t think that we should abide by it. Of course that’s the case. My argument here is that when we begin to speak about the function and the effect of American foreign policy, we can’t just focus on one side while discounting the legitimacy of indigenous forces for insurrection within those countries that you want to cede sovereignty to. And sovereignty exists within the context of political efficacy and hierarchy and legitimacy. If you have at the very heart of a society a question about the legitimate effect of power being exercised within their confines, then we do have to make a moral judgment about intervention at that point. It’s muddy. It’s—it’s muddy. It’s bloody. It’s very nuanced, which means it ain’t perfect. But I think it does beg the question as to how we will intervene when people ask us to intervene. I’m not suggesting that it’s arbitrary and willy-nilly, just whenever somebody shows up and our interests converge with theirs, then we get involved. I’m saying that there is a much more strategic form of liberal internationalism.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. And if you want to weigh in, go to our website at democracynow.org. You can also get a copy of today’s show. Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, and thank you so much to Glen Ford of BlackAgendaReport.com.